LES LIEBER is best known in the jazz world as the founder and inimitable master-of-ceremonies of Jazz At Noon, the Friday jam sessions he launched in midtown Manhattan in 1965 and has led ever since. Less well known is that he has been wowing people as a musician for almost 70 years. A fluid, lyrical alto saxophonist in the tradition of Benny Carter, Les has also been acknowledged as probably the greatest practitioner on the penny whistle in jazz history. Early in his music career, he performed with Paul Whiteman on nationwide CBS Radio and recorded with the legendary French gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt on Armed Forces Radio in Paris, shortly after the liberation. Since then, he has traded choruses with a long list of jazz luminaries, including Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Taylor and Clark Terry, among many others. Outside of music, Les has had a distinguished career in public relations and as a magazine writer, principally for This Week magazine, which, in its heyday, was a Sunday supplement carried by 43 newspapers with a weekly circulation of 13 million. As the magazine’s roving editor, he penned hundreds of feature articles on subjects both whimsical and serious, from sports and Hollywood to the White House. Lese took the “roving” part of his job title seriously; fluent in five languages, he traveled widely to report on everything from the Mexican jumping bean to the linguistic delights he chronicled in his classic humor piece, “How To Bark Abroad,” which has been widely anthologized. Married with four sons and six grandkids, Les was also, until recently, probably the only man in America who could score ten strokes under his age over 18 holes of golf. Not even Tiger Woods has accomplished that. Yet.
–Jamie Katz, March 2008